BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Finger-Snapping Great!
Charles Addams, the legendary cartoonist of The New Yorker, is celebrated for his sinister sense of humor, more so because of his creation in 1938 of the outlandish clan of macabre characters known as the Addams Family. Beyond the pages of the magazine, the bizarre seven-member household appeared in a popular mid-sixties TV series, feature films, and multiple spinoffs. In 2009, a collaboration between Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (co-authors of JERSEY BOYS) and composer Andrew Lippa (BIG FISH, THE WILD PARTY) resurrected them in a musical comedy entitled (of course) THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
The show is at its core a lighthearted and quirky comedy that centers around the unorthodox desire of Addams daughter Wednesday's desire to marry Lucas Beineke, a real live human being. A dinner invitation to the prospective in-laws is more than enough to shake up the status quo, unnerve the parents, and bring the ghouls out of the mansion basement.
Normally, THE ADDAMS FAMILY boasts enough gag lines, weird moments, and melodious tunes to make for a generally satisfying time at the theatre.
However, in its current staging at Arizona Broadway Theatre, director Danny Gorman has conjured up a production with style and panache that more than satisfies. It excels in tickling the funny bone and drawing breaths of delight. It is, in all aspects, sensational ~ funny and fanciful and heartwarming ~ featuring a cast that gives depth and dimension to their iconic characters.
Topping the list of outstanding performances are those of Brad York and Renée Kathleen Koher whose chemistry as Gomez and Morticia is palpable and thoroughly engaging. Both are great singers and invest their characters with a singularity that allows you to put Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth out of mind. York plays his role with flair ~ splendid as the suave, crafty and sentimental dad who works overtime to balance his loyalties to wife and daughter. Koher is elegant and enchanting as the no-nonsense matriarch, playing her role with a wondrous mix of authority and sensuousness.
Jasmine Bassham adds luster to the show with a stellar portrayal of the two faces of Wednesday ~ one, a terrifying avatar of darkness, wielding a crossbow and prone to torturing her brother Pugsley (Corban Adams); the other, a sensible girl with a mind to breaking convention in the name of love and Lucas Beineke (Nick Williams). The ambivalence is best expressed in her exquisite rendition of Pulled.
For his part, Corban Adams delivers an inspired solo of What If. In a contemplative exchange with feisty Grandma Addams (Barbara McBain), he shares his fear of being abandoned by his sister (What if she never tortures me anymore? How would I manage?). A solid round of applause for this young man.
One of the seminal moments in the show is Full Disclosure, the dinner table confessional at which each attendee must reveal a personal secret. The "game" is the condition on which Morticia relented and accepted the invitation to Lucas's parents.
In due course, the eerily lovable Uncle Fester (Lionel Ruland) unabashedly declares his love for the Moon.
Meanwhile, Pugsley, in a desperate attempt to reverse Wednesday's decision, aims to slip her a potion that inadvertently gets imbibed by Alice Beineke.
In one of the standout performances of the show, the amazing Lynzee Foreman unleashes her powerhouse voice as she lays bare Alice's woes and frustration with her marriage to Mal (Mark Woodard); Foreman's tightly wound Alice explodes into a fierce exposition of her personal truths.
Where words have failed Lurch (Nicholas Dana Rylands), the grunting Family butler, let's just say that Rylands does not fail Lurch. Enough said!
The entire mood of the Family estate is enhanced by Zach Blane's lighting and the brilliant collaboration of scenic and set designer Nate Bertone. Framed by pale sheer drapes that accentuate the wraiths that perambulate the stage, the mansion assumes an appropriate Gothic demeanor.
From the opening chords of the familiar finger-snapping theme to the rousing finale, Adam Berger's orchestra produces a rich and energetic accompaniment to the outstanding work of the ensemble.
All in all, THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a finely-honed production, perfect in all its elements, and more than worthy of full family attendance.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY runs through July 6th at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria, AZ, followed by run from July 12th through 28th at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.
Note: The role of Gomez is alternately performed by Matthew Mello. The role of Pugsley is shared with Aaron McCaskill. For the schedule, go to www.azbroadway.org/af.
Photo credit to Scott Samplin
Arizona Broadway Theatre ~ https://azbroadway.org/ ~ 7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria, AZ ~ 623-776-8400
Herberger Theater Center ~ www.herbergertheater.org ~ 222 E. Monroe Street, Phoenix ~ 602-252-8497